J-1 Exchange Visitor Student and Scholar Pre-Arrival Information

We are very glad you are planning to come to ACU as an Exchange Visitor!  On this page, you will find a variety of resources to help you plan appropriately for your Exchange Visitor Program in the U.S.

What is a J-1 Exchange Visitor?

The J-1 visa was created to foster global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges.  All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences. 

For basic information about the U.S. Exchange Visitor program, please see the Welcome Brochure prepared by the U.S. Department of State.  (http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/docs/welcome_broch2008.pdf)  Also, there is a website specifically dedicated to explaining the J Exchange Visitor program at:  http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/ 

What is the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement?

Some Exchange Visitors (EV) are subject to a two-year home residency requirement.  This means that after the visitor has completed his or her program in the U.S., the EV must spend two years in the home country before starting a new program in the U.S.  All EVs who are sponsored by their own government or the U.S. government are subject to this requirement.  Other EVs may also be subject based on the skills list published by the Department of State.  For a listing of the EVs who are subject based on skills and countries, go to:   http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_4514.html

How do I get my J-1 Visa? What fees are involved?

Once you have been admitted to ACU and have presented financial documents showing that you have adequate resources to support your studies at ACU for one academic year, the CIE will issue the Form DS-2019.  With the SEVIS number on your DS-2019, you must first pay the new SEVIS fee before going to your visa interview.  Information about the SEVIS fee may be found by going to the website:  https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/  After you have paid the fee, print out the receipt and keep it with your other documents.  Next, take the DS-2019 together with your letter of acceptance from ACU, financial guarantee documents, and a valid passport to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate having jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence and apply for a student visa to study at ACU.  Visa fees vary, so students are encouraged to view the following website for more information:  http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_4514.html.  You can also refer to the J website at:  http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/interviews-documents/

What is a reasonable estimate of the expenses for my program of study at ACU?

You can view total estimated costs at ACU by going to:  http://www.acu.edu/admissions/international/financial-aid/expense-estimate.html; however, remember that this estimate does not include personal costs, such as clothing, personal items, travel, or vacation expenses.  It is always best to have access to extra funds, should the need arise. 

After you have been accepted to ACU, please log on to http://my.acu.edu.  At this site, you may be able to choose the housing appropriate for you and view the corresponding costs.  If a housing choice is not available, you can contact Laura Blake, Assistant Director for International Student Services, at Laura.Blake@acu.edu and she can assist you with this.

If you are coming to ACU as a Visiting Scholar, you will be responsible for the mailing costs for your DS-2019.  The CIE does not charge a fee for participants, but please contact your department for an itemized list of fees and expenses for your specific program. 

How will I purchase the required health insurance policy?

As mentioned in the Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Welcome Brochure, all J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to have health insurance for the duration of their stay in the U.S.  At ACU, medical insurance that meets the government requirements is mandatory for all international students and is arranged by the Center for International Education (CIE).  Payment will be made through your student account, and you will be issued a health insurance card.  The costs listed on your DS-2019 do include the purchase of the required medical insurance for the J-1 principal.  Students and scholars bringing dependents with them to the U.S. will need to purchase the required health insurance for the dependents separately.  Please discuss this with an advisor at the CIE. J exchange visitors who willfully fail to maintain the required health insurance for themselves and their dependents will be terminated.

What can I expect at the U.S. Port of Entry? 

You will need to present all your official documents at the Port of Entry, so sure to carry them on the plane with you.  Before you arrive in the U.S., you will be asked to fill out an I-94 card.  This is your arrival/departure card for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Be sure to carefully print your name exactly as it appears on your passport. Remember that in the U.S., “Last Name” is the same as “Family Name”, and “First Name” is the same as “Given Name.”  Present your U.S. entry documents (DS-2019, financial documents, I-901 fee receipt) along with your passport, J-1 visa and the I-94 at the port of entry.  Your I-94 and DS-2019 should be marked “D/S,” meaning you are admitted to the U.S. for the duration of your Exchange Visitor program.  If your I-94 card has an expiration date on it, please come to the CIE with your documents immediately upon arrival.

What happens after I arrive?

Once you have reserved your airplane ticket (to arrive in Abilene, Texas - airport code “ABI”), please email the Assistant Director for International Student Services, Laura Blake, at laura.blake@acu.edu with your flight information.  Laura will make arrangements to pick you up at the airport in Abilene and deliver you to the housing you have chosen online at the ACU website.  Please plan to arrive by the date requested on your DS-2019.  The required International Student Orientation will be held shortly before the semester begins, so a timely arrival is vital.  The CIE will need copies of your documents and will assist you to make preparations for your classes.

What else should I know?

General J Exchange Visitor information is located on the J Exchange Visitor website at:  http://j1visa.state.gov/ .  J-1 Exchange Visitors can also find a guide to the important immigration terms and documents.  On the CIE website, you will also find helpful information to assist you during your stay in the U.S.  For other questions, please contact an advisor in the Center for International Education.

We look forward to meeting you soon!




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